PROJECTYoung People and the Safety Net



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The years young people move from adolescence to adulthood—roughly ages 14 to 24—are full of immense potential. With a stable foundation, adolescents can thrive and successfully become healthy, productive young adults contributing to their communities.

During this transition, access to food, housing, health care, and income can shape young people’s life trajectories and determine whether they meet their full potential. But significant inequities—particularly for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous young people—have contributed to far too many having insufficient access to these basic needs as they move into adulthood.

Despite their resourcefulness and resilience, young people who do not have sufficient income and cannot rely on family support to meet their basic needs may find safety net programs essential. But the web of public safety net programs has substantial gaps that leave many people without the supports they need. This is true for people of all ages, but young people face unique challenges related to their age and developmental stage that make these gaps even bigger and more harmful.

This project examines key safety net programs and explores how these programs can better meet young people’s basic needs for housing, food, health care, and income during this transitional life stage.


Research Areas Children and youth Social safety net
Tags Youth development Welfare and safety net programs Racial barriers to accessing the safety net
Policy Centers Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population